Texas lawmaker plans to sue university over cancelled speech

A state lawmaker plans to sue Texas Southern University after his appearance on campus was shut down by a heckler’s veto.

As Campus Reform reported October 10, Republican State Rep. Briscoe Cain was set to speak on campus, but the event had to be cancelled before it had even begun after protesters descended upon the venue and shouted over Cain.

[RELATED: Free Speech Week ends early amidst potential lawsuit]

While campus police initially attempted to intervene, the school’s president, Austin Lane, allowed the chaos to ensue, saying Cain’s speech was an “unapproved event.”

Now, according to The Dallas Morning News, Cain plans to file suit against the university for willfully obstructing his First Amendment rights.

“In the last few days the truth has begun to be made evident: the TSU administration shut me down because I’m a conservative,” Cain remarked. “This kind of viewpoint discrimination must not be tolerated.”

The Morning News reports that Cain plans to hire attorney Jerad Najvar, naming the university and its president as defendants.

While TSU said it “cannot comment at this time” since it has yet to see the lawsuit, it previously defended its cancellation of the event because the student group hosting Cain allegedly didn’t go through the “appropriate channels.”

[RELATED: DOJ joins free-speech lawsuit against Georgia college]

Cain, however, claims that he was “greeted by campus officials, given a guest parking voucher, and brought into a room in which the administration had specifically requested the talk occur,” leading him to conclude that the talk had been shut down based solely on his conservative identity.

“Originally, that was off the table. We thought maybe they had legitimate grounds but over the last few days we are finding that they’re not legitimate grounds, that this was a precept—that the reason they shut us down was purely based on my identity and the identity of the students,” herecently told Fox Business, adding that “this is just part of the trend, that conservatives are being shouted down on college campuses.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AGockowski

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STUDY Free speech inclusivity are conflicting interests

A new study reveals that bias response team administrators struggle to do their jobs while still respecting students’ First Amendment rights.

University of North Carolina-Charlotte professor Ryan Miller, conducted interviews with 21 bias response team administrators, finding that many of them suffer difficulty “balancing free speech and the creation of an inclusive campus.”

While Miller notes that many of the subjects expressed a desire to uphold the First Amendment rights of students, the “need to balance protecting free speech with creating an inclusive campus environment” presents them with “conflicting interests.”

[RELATED: UMN Bias Response Team unable to define ‘bias’ or ‘response’]

“I think we always are trying to strike an equitable balance between acknowledging a student’s, or offending party’s, First Amendment right of free speech, free assembly,” asserted April, one of the administrators interviewed for the study.

Jennifer, a diversity administrator at another college, voiced similar statements.

“I definitely believe in freedom of speech, but also I want to make sure that we are a safe and supportive community,” she told Miller. “I think that we can do both of those things. Hopefully, people recognize that they’re not trying to be harmful or hurtful and want to be better in the future.”

[RELATED: Bias Response Team investigated profs for discussing conflicting opinions]

While many administrators worried about infringing upon the First Amendment, they also expressed a strong desire to root out any instances of “hate speech” or “bias” that might occur on their campus.

An administrator named Kelly, for example, suggested that when the the expression of individual rights is “reckless and irresponsible…that’s when a bias response team can be most effective.”

Jennifer also expressed concern about marginalized students who might be “triggered” by hate speech or hateful groups on campus, noting that while she can’t have hateful groups removed, she can be “proactive” about providing support “to the students that are triggered when they see these folks.”

Lisa, a senior diversity administrator at a public college, reported frustration at being unable to respond to

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Swarthmore students burn American flag on Columbus Day

On Columbus Day, the Swarthmore Indigenous Students Association (SISA) burned the American flag and issued a set of demands, including removal of the flag from campus.

The demands, posted on flyers in the campus dining hall, also called on Swarthmore College to “admit and recruit native students,” asserting that “Swarthmore has consistently had a student body that is less than 1% indigenous,” possibly because it “does not recruit on any reservations or at any of the Native schools.”

The students also demanded an “indigenous studies special major,” but then went on to insist that the school “actively encourage classes on indigenous people in all departments.”

Additionally, protesters called for the removal of “the U.S. flag from Parrish,” an on-campus building, claiming that “Indigenous students have died in the name of this flag” while “international students suffer the effects of the American neocolonialism of this flag.”

[RELATED: American flag lowered, burned in response to election]

“All people deserve to feel comfortable at their school,” the demands continue, concluding with a call for the school to create a fund to pay for flights “to and from home” for all students who are unable to afford travel expenses.

“Indigenous communities are where our identity is built,” the group asserts, adding that “Severing our ability to return home severs our identity just as international students.”

The demands were made public at a flag-burning event held in the woods bordering campus, a practice that the group later justified in a statement published in Voices, a student publication.

“We burn the American flag not just for ourselves, but for our ancestors who died because of that flag. We burn it for our indigenous siblings across the globe and for all of the people across the globe exploited by the United States and other Western imperialist states, caught in between their wars,” the statement declared.

“We burn the flag for our kinfolk here on these lands we love, the other marginalized groups we are offering our solidarity to, hoping they offer it in return. We burn this flag because we want you to know it’s not ju

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ADF creates resource to help students defend free speech

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) launched a new resource Monday for college students facing free-speech battles on campus.

The website, home to ADF’s Center for Academic Freedom, is designed to be a one-stop shop for students with questions about their First Amendment freedoms, according to an ADF press release.

[RELATED: Conservative students arrested for handing out Constitutions]

The resource features information on some of ADF’s most high-profile cases, a state-by-state guide on free-speech protections at public universities, and a searchable list of more than 300 past ADF victories that students can use to review cases similar to those they might be experiencing themselves.

Additionally, ADF hopes that its new tool will offer lawmakers a glimpse into the free-speech crisis on campus, helping them to pass additional protections in their states.

[RELATED: Prez ‘surprised’ and ‘shocked’ that UF must allow free speech]

“Today’s college students are tomorrow’s judges, legislators, teachers, and voters,” ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox remarked in the press release. “Yet public universities are not only failing to educate the next generation about their First Amendment freedoms, they are actively violating those rights and teaching the next generation that freedom of speech is too dangerous to permit.

“This new resource will empower students and faculty to know their rights, exercise them, and find free legal information to defend them,” he added.

Follow Campus Reform on Twitter: @CampusReform

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College creates equity report card to grade departments

Austin Community College recently developed an “Equity Report Card” for individual departments to self-assess how inclusive they are.

The report card, created by the school’s Office of Equity and Inclusion, provides faculty and staff with an extensive grading rubric, breaking down possible grades into the categories of “exemplar,” “highly proficient,” “progressing,” “insufficient,” and “unsatisfactory,” with corresponding descriptions for each category.

[RELATED: Prof lets students choose own grade for ‘stress reduction’]

In order for a department to meet “exemplar” equity standards, for instance, it should, among other things, have “culturally conscious leaders” who “assume responsibility for disparities and fully implement equity design principles,” while ensuring that “inclusive language is evident throughout all policies.”

An “unsatisfactory” department, on the other hand, is described as being “race- and culture-blind,” showing a “refusal to examine the impact of dominant culture norms on institutional outcomes and practices.”

Additionally, each possible grading category contains a substantial list of “criteria” to be met, with the “exemplar” grade stressing the allocation of “funding for anti-racist and anti-bias training,” while requiring departments to “centralize equity as a core value and highest priority in all assessment, planning, and evaluation.”

[RELATED: Oberlin students say bad grades are getting in the way of activism]

“Exemplar” departments are also expected to “ensure course evaluations include equity and inclusion components to support course redesign” and “require interactive, face-to-face training for all deans and department chairs” on “culturally responsive teaching.”

The report card was launched in response to “a number of student groups” who are “being underserved and/or are experiencing feelings of isolation or exclusion because of the institution’s climate and inability to engage marginalized students on campus or in the classroom.”

“Achieving equity is an ethical issue and a moral imperative that requires the examination and transformation of hearts, minds, and

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